How do I Control Burrowing Rodents?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Images By: Sly, Ilia Shcherbakov, Sarka, Daveynin, Jaggat
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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There are several methods available for controlling burrowing rodents. These include traps, poisons, food control, repellents, and exclusion. Users of these methods should consider the type of control measure that best suits their needs, and should practice care when confronting live animals.

Various types of rodents, including rats or mice, groundhogs, moles, badgers, and chipmunks, can burrow into the basements or even the walls of human habitations. Once inside these areas, the animals can damage insulation, plumbing, wiring, and the basic structure of a building. They also commonly disturb gardening or agricultural areas. The tunnels created by burrowing rodents are often visible on surface dirt as clusters of mounds or ridges.

One of the primary means of rodent control is traps. A trap will capture and sometimes kill a troublesome animal. Many varieties of traps can be purchased or made by hand. Most types involve a snapping latch that is triggered when the animal steps on or into the trap. One usually lures the animal onto a trap by using some form of bait such as food. Traps are best placed near a suspected opening where the animal enters or leaves its tunnel.

Poisons may also prove useful fur some forms of pest control. Strychnine, chlorophacinone, and zinc phosphide are some of the common poisons used to control burrowing rodents. The poison, like traps, should be placed at or near a suspected opening.


For some rodents such as field mice or moles, food is the main objective in burrowing endeavors. Thus, limiting the animal’s food supply will likely curtail its troublesome habits. In cases of garden burrowers, this may be achieved by applying insecticides to the food. This chemical substance kills small insects that serve as many rodents’ primary food source.

Repellents are available to detain burrowing rodents as well. For example, mothballs placed in the opening of a frequently used tunnel may discourage moles. Some retailers also offer repellents that emit an electronic impulse to deter varying types of rodent pests.

Perhaps the most efficient rodent repellent is rodent exclusion, or proofing a building against rodent entry during construction. Use of durable building materials and the closing of potentially troublesome holes or openings are main goals in rodent exclusion. These steps may also prove useful for a building owner.

The most effective means of burrowing rodents pest control often depends on the nature of the infestation and the wishes of the individual. For example, an individual may have reservations about killing the animal, so poison and traps designed to kill may not be a preferred option. Poison may also not be desirable if the rodent has burrowed into a tight, confined space. The dying rodent may become lodged in this area and emit a strong odor when it expires. Poison may also prove dangerous to pets or small children.

One should always exercise caution when a live rodent is present. The sharp-toothed animals can bite and transmit diseases or infections. Rodent dropping carry similar risks. If a burrowing rodents infestation persists, one should contact a certified professional like an exterminator. Mice in particular reproduce quickly and create several tunnels, so their control may prove especially difficult.


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